Regardless of industry or type business we all at some point face ethical dilemmas. Whether it is choosing the right copy for our brand or choosing what clients we work with, it all comes down to our ethics.
The discussion opened up some interesting questions and we soon realized that making the right ethical decisions is not a linear process. Nor does it differ that much from the usual ethics we apply in our daily lives.
Questions and Observations
How honest can you be in business? In other words if you are faced with portraying a certain image due to business perception, how far do you push it?
“I have two people working from my Canadian office- Does that make me an international business? Is that the right image to portray?’ – Copywriter
How far do you stretch the truth for the survival of your business? Telling people that you have done something when you haven’t, but you know that you are more than capable. This can come down to winning or loosing a client.
Do ethics and perception change from industry to industry ? Are you selling fantasy? For example we had a look at a cosmetics company, who gave the perception of elongating lashes to an unrealistic length. However is that unethical or just ‘selling’ fantasy and an idealized perception? After all we all know that is not what we would look like, but we are drawn to the possibility. Is this unethical or just fulfillment of a societal demand?
What does it mean by going too far? Should people make up their own mind? Where does self thought come in?
There were two key examples, which were pointed out..
The first were fear based campaigns done by NGO’s like PETA, it literally engages the limbic system as it is causing anxiety and in some cases fear. Is that really how you would like to persuade people to explore your message? Are there other more effective ways to ‘sell’ a compelling message than using scare tactics?
The next example was a Nike commercial which stated facts about how sports help reduce pregnancy, drug use, unhealthy self image, etc. Although a seemingly positive commercial turns a bit unethical if a child sees it and thinks they are inadequate if they do not do sports. Or the fact that it is using a core cultural belief to manipulate people into buying their brand.
So the final comment on this how much time do you want to spend persuading your clients to buy into your brand versus simply attracting them.
Can we escape being human? Companies are unethical not due to structure but because they are run by humans. Narcissistic, obsessive, competitive, and in some cases psychopathic behavior seeps into corporate culture. As small business owners we can keep our own ethical behavior in check and make decisions based on our ethical standards.
- Express vulnerability to generate trust and transparency. Studies have shown that we are actually more prone to distrust if it seems too good to be true. So saying that you only have a small team upfront could win you the client’s trust rather than pretending you are a team of thousands.
- The truth is what you can fulfill within your business. If you cannot deliver on it then do not ‘sell’ or portray that image.
- Is your unique personality coming through
- Defining your own personal ethics and sticking with them
- Remember that it is not just about persuading but about retention, so being truthful can help create a bond and retention.
WECREATE NYC is an innovation space that has been purposely designed to instigate collaboration, focus, and conceptual thought.